Saturday, December 26, 2009

Chasing Turkey

I once climbed under an electric fence with a pair of scissors in my pocket and the angle of my arched back allowed the scissors to touch the wire. Now here’s the thing about electric fences, the closer you are to the mains unit the stronger the shock. The unit pulses: on, off, on off … The charge was strong enough to snap the steel blades and burn my rugby hardened butt cheek. The cheek survived and grew into a karate hardened butt cheek, but electric fences declared war on me.

There’s the night I ran down a turkey, ran out of daylight, got lost, almost got shot, and used the mains feed for the electric fences to pull myself out of the mangroves. I ended up flat on my back, lying unconscious in the mud. It’s now the dog deserts me and heads for home. I don’t blame him, I’m sure I screamed and frightened him before I was thrown into the air, and his silhouette had saved me from being shot. When I finally come to the cloud has cleared and I admire the stars, and check to see if I’m still holding onto the turkey.

Covered in mud and dragging the turkey by the neck I walked into the farm cottage at 2am. The Dutch share milker I was working for was on the phone talking to the property owner about organising a search. He was bare-arsed and R-rated, but I had the turkey, had survived rifle toting fishermen who had thought I was free steak, and was too tired to be embarrassed.

“I’m home Joe. I’m going to bed, and we’ll eat this tomorrow.”

Turkeys can fly from treetop to ground, high ground to hollow, but aren’t good flyers. I’m not sure how many kilometres I ran to catch this bird, but I didn’t give up. He glided, I ran downhill and up the other side. When I couldn’t see him I honed in on his raucous cry. I caught that gobbler and rung his neck.

I think the turkey gave up, and I fell on top of him and he died of fright, but I didn’t give up. I set a goal—turkey dinner—and despite the hot chilli simmering in my lungs and legs, and the road runner using all the good oxygen, I feasted on roast turkey. I was also able to sleep in and miss the 5am milking. This was the only milking I missed in eleven months.

Twenty seven years later I’m still running into electric fences and chasing turkeys. I set goals and sometimes fail or get burnt, but I don’t give up.

My Christmas wish is for everyone to have the courage and stamina to chase dreams, to love and forgive, and to honour and respect all people and life.

No matter what your roast has been this year, I hope you have shared it with family and friends.

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